Egg and dairy farmers to benefit from swine fever?

Access Archive

Dear Access member,

It’s been a slow news day to end a slow news week, so at the top, we have highlighted some numbers from a Bloomberg piece on African swine fever.

The article, like almost everything I’ve read in recent weeks, is absolutely confident that China will not be able to meet its demand for pork in the next year or two. While Chinese pig farmers may suffer, the pork industry in the U.S. and elsewhere will benefit. In the long term, a perhaps more consequential side effect is that Chinese tastes may change as egg and dairy farmers do their best to make up the protein shortfall.

—Jeremy Goldkorn, Editor-in-Chief

A massive pork shortage

In a piece focusing on Chinese pig farmers’ attempts to prevent their herds from being infected, Bloomberg presents (porous paywall) some stats and possible consequences of China’s African swine fever epizootic.

  • Wholesale pork prices are 9 percent up from July 2019. As the meat is “a key element in China’s consumer price basket,” inflation will probably rise.

  • Domestic pork supply in China this year may fall at least 4 million metric tons below demand. By the end of this year, China may have lost 30 to 40 percent of its hog population, around 130 million pigs. The national breeding-sow herd dropped 19 percent in February from a year earlier, according to government data.

  • “The global market won’t have enough pork to supply China,” one expert told Bloomberg. This “may prompt a dietary shift to alternative protein-rich foods, such as eggs and dairy.”

  • American farmers may benefit. On April 10, the Wall Street Journal reported (paywall), “Hog futures traded on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange…surged nearly 50 percent in the past month amid expectations that China will push up pork prices in the U.S.”


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—Jeremy Goldkorn, Editor-in-Chief

Here are the stories that caught our eye this week:

  • Ecommerce giant is restructuring and laying off as many as 12,000 employees, or 8 percent of its total workforce of 150,000, according to The Information. Bloomberg also reported that the company is “preparing deep cuts to its workforce,” but did not specify how deep. JD denied that the restructuring was an abnormal move, but there is no denying that the company has had a rough time since last September, when its founding CEO, Richard Liu — who also controls nearly 80 percent of the company’s voting rights — was arrested on suspicion of rape in Minneapolis. Prosecutors later declined to file charges, but the company’s stock price never fully recovered.

  • Nine pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong were convicted on public nuisance charges for their roles in the Umbrella Movement protests of 2014. They could face up to seven years in prison, in the latest blow against freedom of assembly in the city.

  • Xianghubao, a health insurance co-op made by Alibaba’s Ant Financial, has already amassed 50 million users since its launch last October, Ant Financial announced this week. The company plans to reach 300 million users within two years, and is emphasizing that the service is aimed at the masses rather than the urban elites — but the company faces many risks and guaranteed regulatory scrutiny in its future.

  • China is likely to phase out bitcoin mining, or at least bring an end to the cheap electricity and other factors that make the business viable in the People’s Republic, according to a revised list of industries to encourage, restrict, or eliminate released by the National Development and Reform Commission.

  • Microsoft collaborated with a Chinese military-run university on AI research, it was revealed, sparking outrage in Washington. We paired this news with five takeaways that University of Oxford researcher Jeff Ding said he has from his experience writing about and translating Chinese-language writing about artificial intelligence (AI) research in China.

  • SOHO China won a libel case against a WeChat blogger who claimed that the real estate company’s Wangjing SOHO complex in Beijing has bad feng shui. The WeChat public account that published the criticism now owes 200,000 yuan ($30,000) and a public apology.

  • The Chinese Mar-a-Lago trespasser, Yujing Zhang, had over $8,000 in cash, nine USB drives, five SIM cards, and a device for detecting hidden cameras in her hotel room, it was reported. It sure sounds as if she was up to no good, but it’s worth noting that many Chinese people often travel with multiple phones, a variety of electronic devices, and large amounts of cash.

  • A woman in Sichuan was arrested for “disorderly behavior” after she posted a video of herself fishing for snakes in immodest clothing while wearing a red scarf (红领巾 hónglǐngjīn), the symbol of the Young Pioneers.

  • We don’t know exactly why China has consistently refused to categorize Kashmiri militant Masood Azhar and his group, Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), as terrorists. But one plausible theory is related to JeM’s ties to the Taliban, worries about regional security, and the prospect of brokering peace in Afghanistan.

  • Moutai, the famed firewater whose share prices were in the doldrums in 2014 as the anti-corruption campaign decimated the boozy nightlife of Chinese officialdom, is now reporting record-high share prices and very healthy quarterly revenues.

  • The government of Punjab Province in Pakistan asked Huawei to remove Wi-Fi-transmitting cards from a video surveillance system back in 2017, it was reported, due to a “potential of misuse.” A Huawei spokesperson called the problem a “misunderstanding.”

  • As Beijing continues to block Canadian canola oil from import, in retaliation for the arrest of Huawei CFO Mèng Wǎnzhōu 孟晚舟, Sichuan Province is seeking to produce more of the product domestically, and buyers are looking at other markets for suppliers.

  • Five Australian children are trapped in Xinjiang, and are separated from at least one of their parents, according to reporting from the Guardian. Also, the nearly 800-year-old Keriya mosque in Hotan has become one of hundreds to be unceremoniously demolished in recent years. Meanwhile, Xinjiang Party Secretary Chén Quánguó 陈全国 is reportedly in contention to join the Politburo Standing Committee in 2022.

  • An American university degree does not benefit Chinese seeking jobs back home, at least at the entry level, a new study has found. Employers — including foreign companies — in China prefer local university graduates, in part because they believe these employees are easier to retain.

  • American farmers may benefit from China’s culling of pigs to fight off African swine fever. With the anticipation of China importing American pork to meet demand, hog futures on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange have risen nearly 50 percent in the past month.


Apple Inc. supplier Japan Display said on Friday it has signed a long-awaited deal under which it will receive a 232 billion yen ($2.1 billion) bailout that will give a Chinese-Taiwanese group a near-majority stake in the firm…

…The buyer group, which includes Taiwanese flat screen maker TPK Holding and Chinese investment firm Harvest Group, will inject up to 80 billion yen into Japan Display by buying shares and bonds.


  • Cheaper Tesla Model 3 on sale
    Tesla begins sales of cheapest yet Model 3 car variant in China / Reuters via CNA
    Tesla “said in a statement that Chinese customers can now order a standard range Model 3 variant whose starting price of 377,000 yuan ($56,200) will make it the cheapest version of the car in China.”


When it comes to defending Canada from the menace posed by the People’s Republic of China, it is now a matter of public record, and should be a matter of some embarrassment to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, if not shame, that the course his government embarked upon four years was dangerously naive, if not recklessly thoughtless. It’s a tragedy that it took the Chinese Ministry of State Security’s kidnapping of former Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig and cultural entrepreneur Michael Spavor to prove that the Beijing regime was not the “win-win, golden decade” friend and trade partner Trudeau had incessantly harped about.

China has been holding a Canadian diplomat for four months, and the Canadian Prime Minister says he is “obviously concerned.” What’s obvious is that he is not.

We’re way overdue for Ottawa to take the steps that would free Michael Kovrig, along with Michael Spavor, a second Canadian also being held…

…We didn’t build this great country by rolling over to bullies – but you wouldn’t know it from how the government has reacted to two innocent Canadians being arbitrarily detained and their lives being toyed with.

Two human rights advocates who focus on China issues say they were told by U.S. officials last year that the Trump administration was preparing to impose sanctions on Beijing in December over its treatment of Uyghur Muslims in the country’s western region of Xinjiang… The activists believe the administration squelched the plan in order to avoid harming trade talks with China.

In the decked-out ballroom of a ritzy Washington hotel the night before Donald Trump took office, thousands of dollars flowed from political donors and a questionable casino company to an undisclosed bank account.

The lavish Asian Pacific American Presidential Inaugural Gala — the first of its kind, with a buffet-style dinner, cocktail tables draped in white cloth and live entertainment — drew more than 900 people who paid at least $75 per ticket and a handful of sponsors who shelled out much more.

But there’s no trace of the money raised that night, as required by law, The Palm Beach Post has found.


  • Cinema
    The mind-boggling art-house film that broke China’s box office / The Atlantic
    Long Day’s Journey Into Night, directed by Bì Gàn 毕赣, was a surprise box office winner in China. David Sims calls it “a gorgeous and impossible puzzle of a movie that could become a cult hit when it arrives in the United States.”

  • Chinese views of an American trial
    Chinese netizens decry mistrial in US terra cotta warrior case / Sixth Tone
    “On microblogging platform Weibo, thousands of users criticized the jury members for not reaching a guilty verdict Tuesday in the case against the now 25-year-old Michael Rohana, who was charged last year with the theft and concealment of an object of cultural heritage. Footage from the city’s Franklin Institute museum allegedly showed Rohana taking photographs close to one of the statues during an after-hours event in December 2017 before snapping off its thumb, according to media reports.”


From a red scarf video to bad feng shui — our top news this week

From massive layoffs at an ecommerce giant to a real estate company winning a lawsuit against a blogger who claimed one of its buildings had bad feng shui, here are some top stories we covered this week.

Meet the winner of this year’s China Institute fashion competition

Feiyang Qiao, a senior at Parsons School of Design, who studies fashion, said that she wanted to use her wedding collection to show that Chinese weddings don’t have to be expensive and that Chinese fashion goes beyond the color red and embroidery.


‘A Life in a Sea of Red’: Q&A with Pulitzer Prize–winning photographer Liu Heung Shing

Liu Heung Shing began photographing China in 1976; his first assignment, for Life Magazine, was covering Mao Zedong’s death. He later worked as a photojournalist for the Associated Press, capturing China’s reform and opening up, the 1989 Tiananmen protests, and the Soviet Union’s collapse. Much of his best work has been collected in a forthcoming book, A Life in a Sea of Red, which spans most of his time covering China and Russia from 1976 to 2016.

The future of the fight to preserve Uyghur culture

As the Chinese government crushes Uyghur culture in Xinjiang, Uyghurs abroad are making new efforts to preserve their traditions — but will they succeed? Some scholars say a revival is possible.

Chinese Corner: The rise of Shanghai’s ‘Vagrant Master’ and what it says about our internet

To call the rise of Shěn Wēi 沈巍 meteoric is an understatement. Seemingly overnight, the 52-year-old scavenger in Shanghai became a sensation on the Chinese internet, after a video of him talking in-depth about Chinese literature and philosophy went viral. But the way people have responded to him has been troubling — and reflective of how sick the internet can be.

Also in this week’s Chinese Corner: Professional mourners, Barbie’s China problem, the rise of digital fortune-telling, and Hong Kong’s ridiculous tabloids.

Does porn have educational value in China? New study says yes

For a country where sexually explicit content is banned, sex scenes get cut out of films, and cleavage has to be blurred on TV, there’s no actual shortage of porn in China — whether it’s called huangpian (黄片 huángpiàn), A-pian (A片 A-piàn), xiao dianying (小电影 xiǎo diànyǐng), or any of its many other names. Fueling the demand, as it turns out, are China’s urban millennials: 70 percent of men and 50 percent of women report watching porn at least once a week, according to a recent study conducted by China’s leading mobile platform for women’s sexuality, Yummy, and the sex toy app Taqu 他趣 (Touch). Many respondents reported that viewing porn has improved their sex lives and is educational.

Kuora: The how and why of eunuchs in imperial China

It’s not clear when the practice of using castrated males as servants in the imperial palace began in China, but it is clear that castration was a form of punishment practiced since the first historically attested dynasty, the Shang. Why were they used in court? In theory, eunuchs could be trusted not to get amorous with the women of the palace, and would have less incentive to corruption and embezzlement because they would have no heirs of their own. But in reality, eunuchs often became extremely powerful personal agents of the emperor.


TechBuzz China, Episode 42: To 996, or not to 996, that is the question

Ying-Ying Lu and Rui Ma turn their attention to the developer-led movement, one of the few viral China tech topics in the past few months that has made it to Western media in real time and gotten a good bit of coverage. The movement is so named because there is a popular saying that to work “996,” or at least 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., six days a week — as many tech sector employees do in China — is to end up in the ICU.

Women and Chinese Sci-Fi: NüVoices Live at the Bookworm

Recorded live at the Beijing Bookworm Literary Festival, this week’s episode of the NüVoices podcast features a discussion with two prominent science fiction authors, Tang Fei and Ji Shaoting. The episode was recorded as part of a series of five live SupChina events at this year’s festival.

Sinica Podcast: Peter Lorentzen’s data-driven analysis of Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption campaign

Is the ongoing anti-corruption drive a sincere effort to root out official wrongdoing? Or is it a political purge of the enemies of Xí Jìnpíng 习近平? These questions have been hotly debated since the outset of the campaign in 2013. Now Peter Lorentzen of the University of San Francisco and Xi Lu of the National University of Singapore have harnessed data to examine the anti-corruption drive in the hopes of settling the question. Kaiser sat down with Peter on the sidelines of the recent Association for Asian Studies Conference to talk about the findings in their paper, “Personal Ties, Meritocracy, and China’s Anti-Corruption Campaign.”

ChinaEconTalk: China’s exploited tech workers fight back

This episode of ChinaEconTalk features a discussion with two of the people behind recent, high-profile efforts to mobilize Chinese programmers against labor exploitation via GitHub, the world’s leading software development platform: Suji Yan, CEO of Dimension, and Katt Gu, J.D., Advisor at Asian-Pacific Blockchain Development Association and Ph.D. candidate in informatics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Suji and Katt are on the front lines of a growing movement of thousands protesting working conditions for Chinese tech workers, which are characterized by outrageously long working hours — a practice widely referred to as “996,” shorthand for offices that require staff to work “from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., six days a week.”